IMRAN TAHIR returned career-best figures for the Standard Bank Proteas in Twenty20 Internationals as they made a convincing start to their tour of New Zealand with a comprehensive, 78-run victory in their one-off clash in Auckland on Friday.
The leg-spinner led a stellar bowling display by taking 5/24 – the third best figures ever for South Africa – as the hosts were bundled out for 107 in 14.5 overs. It was also the biggest-ever win in terms of runs over their opponents.
The groundwork for the result was done by seam duo of Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris, the pair picking up the other five wickets between them.
Morris bowled with fine control as he claimed 2/10 in three overs, both his wickets coming from successive deliveries, while Phehlukwayo chipped in with his first international wickets in 20-over cricket thanks to an impressive 3/19 in his three overs.
Tahir, who was also on a hat-trick at one stage, then managed to overcome a slippery ball caused by rain to clean up the tail in his 3.5 overs of magic. Only Ryan McLaren’s 5/19 and 5/23 by David Wiese bettered the feat of the veteran 37-year-old.
Earlier, it was Hashim Amla that set the tone for the tourists with his sixth half-century for South Africa. The opener powered 62 (43 balls, 9 fours, 1 six) to help his side post 185/6 after they lost the toss and were asked to bat first.
Amla made excellent use of timing and conventional hitting during his knock, which included hitting four boundaries in four balls off Ben Wheeler to start the fifth over. Faf du Plessis (36) shared in the vital partnership of the innings, which contributed 87 runs in just 8.2 overs for the second wicket, as the Proteas easily surpassed the par score in the 160s on an overcast evening at Eden Park.
Quinton de Kock (0), who fell to the outstanding Trent Boult (2/8), had a rare failure, but there were other useful contributions from the likes of AB de Villiers (26) and JP Duminy (29) allowing the South Africans to set what proved to be a match-winning total.
A five-match, One-Day International series between the two teams begins in Hamilton on Sunday.